As the national charity dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people in the UK, we welcome the plans by NHS England to recruit more than 1,000 link workers to drive forward social prescribing.
We have been providing regular social gatherings for older people who live alone for more than 50 years and have consistently highlighted the health benefits of prescribing social activities for people who are feeling lonely and isolated.
Meryl Davies, Chief Executive of Contact the Elderly (now Re-engage), said: “Loneliness is the reality for many of the more than two million people aged 75 and over who live alone in the UK. Social isolation and loneliness have tremendous negative health implications for all who experience them.
"We offer healthcare professionals a simple, effective and free way to tackle this growing problem through social prescribing and we are delighted that the NHS is investing in this important aspect of healthcare.
“We know that 49% of older people say that their pet or the television is their main source of company and for many of the older people we support, our volunteers are the only person they see. Yet 95% of our older guests say they now have something to look forward to and we know from the 6,223 people we supported last year that regular friendship and laughter can transform their lives.”
Meryl added: “The critical thing now will be how effectively this is rolled out. Just as there is a database of medication available to prescribe, there will need to be a commitment to developing and maintaining a social prescribing database so that the link workers have easy access to information about the social activities available for them to prescribe to lonely and isolated patients. We urge NHS England to make the most of this opportunity and help tackle loneliness at the root.”
Note - Contact the Elderly is now Re-engage
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